Category Archives: Writing

Short Fiction: Rise of The …

The following is a random bit of prose from a random thing I’m writing in fits and starts. Feel free to comment as to whether or not it’s something worth pursuing.


 

“I yield.” She drew back and dropped to the floor in a sitting position.

“What the hell was that?” Chrysalis demanded, clutching her arm where she’d felt the sting of an injection gun.

“Counteragent. My schedule didn’t allow enough time for me to persuade you logically. It’ll take about twenty minutes to neutralize the metastasin in your system, which should be just about five minutes less than the time it takes for them to notice which guards missed their check-ins, figure out the video feed’s been hacked and send someone down here.”

“Kaitlyn?” Chrys asked. Time, medication and the sheer unlikeliness of it had kept her from recognizing her before. She felt slow and stupid. She relaxed out of her fighting stance and sat. There wasn’t any point in fighting while she was like this. If Kait was telling the truth, she’d have the option of killing her later. If she was lying…

If she was lying, then the universe no longer made enough sense for her to risk doing much of anything.

“You were right,” Kait said. She sounded older, now that Chrys knew what to listen for. Of course she sounded older, she was older. That was how “older” worked. But she sounded more older than she should have done.

“I usually am. About what in particular?”

“Eleven years ago. The Lokiri invasion?”

“Good times,” Chrys said, and she meant it, but she still didn’t fully understand.

“We’re all here on sufferance,” Kait elaborated. “And they only suffer us for so long.”

That sounded dimly familiar. Chrys put the pieces together. “Oh.” And then, “I’m sorry.”

Kait had no idea what to say to that. She had no idea Chrysalis was even capable of saying that. She finally came up with, “Why?”

“There are things you want to be wrong about. Are you going to tell me what happened?”

“It’s a long story.”

“We apparently have twenty-five minutes,” Chrys said.

“I planned on you spending most of that yelling at me.”

“It’s easier to keep you talking for twenty minutes, then incinerate you when my powers come back.” It was too dark in the cell to see her face, but Chrys could sense Kait smiling at that.

“Okay then,” Kait said, “I want you to know up-front, I pretty much lost everything before I figured out just how fucked I was. I should’ve come for you nine years ago, but I couldn’t pull it off until now.”

“I don’t think I believe there’s anything it’d take you nine years to accomplish, Princess.”

Kait blushed without being sure why. “I was in jail for a lot of them.”

Well. That changed things. Chrys leaned forward. “Twenty-two minutes. Talk fast.”

 

About the Hugos

As it turns out, one of this year’s nominees is a very dear childhood friend of mine.

So congratulations.

Unfortunately, he was nominated due to the machinations of a racist, sexist, homophobic, dominionist Men’s Rights Advocate who has literally called people of color sub-human, claims that acid attacks on feminists are “a small price to pay for lasting marriages,” and once called the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai, “perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.”

All the same, congratulations on your nomination. I wish it had been under better circumstances.


 

I mean seriously. All I want is to be happy for an old and dear friend who’s accomplished something very prestigious. Only a bunch of fucking fascists have tainted the whole thing.

Fucking Rabid Puppies.

The Giant, the Wolf, and the Pigs

By Daddy

Preface

[DADDY has just told DYLAN the story of the three little pigs]

DYLAN: I have a book with that story!

DADDY: Yes, that story is in a lot of books, and there’s lots of ways to tell it.

DYLAN: Tell it with a giant! And a wolf! And Jack!

DADDY: Hm. That’s a tricky one. Okay, let’s see what we can come up with


Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack. One day, while he was on his way to find a beanstalk, he met his friends, the three little pigs. “What are you little pigs doing?” he asked

The first little pig, who was a tremendous boar, said, “(Oink!) We’re going to build some houses.”

And so Jack said, “That sounds like a lot of work.”

The first little pig said, “Maybe for my brothers, but I’ve got this fine bale of straw, and I’m going to build my house out of it, and it won’t take any time at all.”

Jack thought about this for a moment, and he said, “A house of straw sounds like it would be very pretty and very cozy, but aren’t you worried that it might fall down if you were attacked by a giant, or perhaps by a big bad wolf?”

But the first little pig just laughed and laughed, and he said, “I don’t think that sounds very likely.”

So Jack wished the first little pig well, and he went over to the second little pig.  Now, the second little pig was an even greater boar. And Jack asked him, “Are you building a house as well? That sounds like a lot of work.”

And the second little pig said, “(Oink) Maybe for my brother, but I’ve got this fine bundle of sticks, and I’m going to build my house out of it. Any maybe it will take a little longer than if I were building it out of straw, but it’ll be such a very much grander house for it.”

Jack asked, “Well a house of sticks does sound very grand, but aren’t you worried that it might fall down if you were attacked by a giant, or perhaps by a big bad wolf?”

But the second little pig just laughed and laughed, and he said, “I don’t think that sounds very likely.”

So Jack wished the second little pig well, and he went over to the third little pig. The third little pig was the greatest boar of all, and he was struggling with a big cart full of bricks. “Oh my,” Jack said, “I suppose you’re going to build your house out of bricks. That sounds like a lot of work.”

The third little pig said, “(Oink) Yes it is. But I want a house that will be strong enough that I won’t have to worry even if it were picked up and dropped by a giant.”

Jack thought about that. “Do you think that sounds very likely?” he asked.

“You never know,” said the third little pig.

Jack wished the third little pig well, and set out on his way to find fun adventures. And some time later, Jack came by the house of the first little pig. And it was a lovely house, all warm and dry and a very pretty shade of straw. Jack knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

Jack answered, “No, I’m Jack.”

“(Oink) Oh, okay then,” said the first little pig, and he invited Jack in for tea and biscuits for lunch.

But while they were eating lunch, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The first little pig looked out between some of the straw in the door and said, “It’s a giant!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack, rather sheepishly. “You see, there was this beanstalk, and this goose…”

But before Jack could tell his story, the giant said, “I’m looking for the little boy named Jack! You’d better let me in!”

And the first little pig said, “Go away! We don’t want any!”

“Oh yeah?” said the giant. “Well, look what I’ve got in my pocket!” and he reached in his pocket and he took out a wolf. A big wolf. And since the wolf lived in the giant’s pocket, we can reasonably assume he was also a bad wolf. “Okay wolf,” said the giant, “Do your thing.”

Now the wolf was in the mood for bacon, so he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the pig, who was perfectly happy to serve lunch, did not much want to be lunch, so he said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And down came the house of straw! And poor Jack, all covered in straw, had to run all the way to the second little pig’s house as fast as his legs could carry him. When he got to the house of sticks, he knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

Jack answered, “No, I’m Jack.”

“(Oink) Oh, okay then,” said the second little pig, and he invited Jack in for lunch. He offered him a bowl of honey, which had been a house-warming present from a bear who was friends with the second little pig’s cousin.

“You seem to be all covered in straw,” the second little pig said.

And Jack picked up the straw and put it in his pockets, and he said, “Yes. About that. I may have some bad news about your brother’s house. See, there was this giant, and this wolf…”

But before Jack could tell his story, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The second little pig looked out between some of the sticks in the door and said, “It’s a giant! With a suspiciously wolf-shaped bulge in his pocket!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack. “You see there was this harp and these beans…”

And the giant said, “I’m looking for the little boy named Jack! You’d better let me in!”

The second little pig said, “Go away! We don’t want any!”

“Oh yeah?” said the giant. “Well, look what I’ve got in my pocket!” and he reached in his pocket and he took out the big bad wolf. “Okay wolf,” said the giant, “Do your thing.”

Now, the wolf was dreaming about pork chops, so he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the pig, who was a strict vegetarian, said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And down came the house of sticks! And poor Jack, with his bowl of honey still in his hand, had to run all the way to the third little pig’s house as fast as his legs could carry him. When he got to the house of brick, he knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

And Jack said, “No.”

Then, in a slightly suspicious tone, the voice said, “(Oink) How about a giant?”

And Jack said, “No, I’m Jack.”

“Do you think you could call back tomorrow?” asked the voice. “For you see I’ve only just finished building this house of bricks, and I far too tired to make lunch. Maybe you could go visit my brothers instead?”

“About your brothers,” Jack said, “There was this giant. And this wolf.”

“I see,” said the third little pig, and he opened the door. “I suspected as much. You’d better come in.”

So Jack came in. But before Jack could tell his story, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The third little pig looked out through the peep-hole in the door and said, “It’s a giant! With a bulge in his pocket shaped suspiciously like a very fat wolf!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack. “You see, there was this castle, and this golden egg…”

“I suppose you’re looking for the little boy named Jack,” the third little pig said to the giant. “Well I suppose you can have him if you like.”

By this point, though, the wolf was dreaming of glazed hams, and he hopped down out of the giant’s pocket without even waiting to be asked, and he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the third little pig, who had spent all day working on his house, was in no mood to provide a meal as well, so he said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And he blew some more.

And he blew some more after that.

And then he had to go lie down for a little while because all that blowing was too much for a wolf suffering from high cholesterol due to a diet rich in pork products.

Now the giant was very angry, so he reached down and he picked up the house of bricks and he shook it. Fortunately for Jack and the third little pig, the house of bricks was very strong and stayed in one piece no matter how hard the giant shook it.

“What are we going to do now?” asked the third little pig. “I put in all this work on my fine little house and now a giant is waving it all around in the air!”

“I know!” said Jack. “I’ve got some straw in my pockets. We could use it to set the house on fire and burn the giant.”

The third little pig was not impressed. “I don’t think that’s a very good idea. For one thing, having my house burned up is not much better than having a giant wave it around. For another thing, we would get all burned up too.”

“That is a fine point,” said Jack.

“Oh!” said the third little pig, “But I have an idea. I have a spinning wheel!”

“I don’t think a spinning wheel is much use against a giant,” Jack said.

“This is a magic spinning wheel,” explained the pig. “It was a house-warming gift from a little man I know whose name I can’t remember. He said it could spin straw into gold.”

“But I’ve already got plenty of gold,” Jack said. “See, there was this goose…”

“Shh!” said the pig. “I think if it can spin straw into gold, it can’t be too much harder to spin straw into yarn.”

So they tried it, and before long, they had turned all of Jack’s straw into yarn. So when the giant wasn’t looking, he slipped down the giant’s sleeve and all the way to the ground. And when he got there, he used the yarn to tie the giant’s legs together. Then he climbed quietly back up to the house of the third little pig. “What should we do now?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know,” said the pig. “I came up with the first part of the plan. Now it’s your turn.”

Jack thought and thought, and then he remembered the bowl of honey. So when the giant wasn’t looking, he slipped up the giant’s sleeve and climbed up to the very top of the giant’s head. And he poured the honey all over the giant’s hair, then he climbed quietly back down to the house of the third little pig.

Now, as you know, flies like honey. I mean, they like other things as well, but for the purposes of our story, it’s mostly important that they like honey. And before long, there were flies flying all over the giant’s head, and it made him so itchy that he got very angry. He shouted, “Fee Fi Fo Fum!” and “Shoo Fly!” but the flies kept coming. Finally, the giant got so angry that he put down the house of bricks and picked up a big rock and tried to hit the flies.

He hit the flies.

But because the flies were on his head, he also hit his head.

And because he had been very angry, he had hit very hard.

And the giant got very dizzy. And he tried to take a step to steady himself.

But, of course, the giant’s legs were tied together.

So the giant lost his balance, and he fell. On the wolf. And he landed with a crash so loud that it was heard all across the land. And that was the end of the giant. And also the end of the wolf.

And Jack  and the third little pig lived happily ever after.

The Sweetest Hereafter

It’s started again. They found four bodies. Kids. Just like before. They found the first one around midnight. Fat kid. Say he drowned. The second one turned up at the resevoir. Naked. Bloated. Discolored. She’d bled out through a thousand little cuts all over her body, like she’d been through a cusinart.
An hour later, they found the third one. Her body had been left at the landfill, half buried in garbage. The others, they were nobodies, but she was one of those heiress types. A couple more years, and she’d have had her own reality show. Trashy pop album. Celebrity sex tape. The works. Instead, she’s hip deep in shit with a broken neck. They can’t find her dad either, but the press doesn’t care about that yet. Not when they’ve got a serial child murderer to fawn over.
It was dawn when the last body turned up. Another boy, just like I knew it would be. The news is saying he was tortured, medieval-style, his small body broken on a rack. I know better. I know he thought he was having the time of his life. Having a great adventure. Right up until his arms popped out of their sockets.
Maybe things would be different if I’d stayed with him, all those years ago. Maybe I could have played along, played his game. Let him dress me up like his little Mini-me. Maybe it would have stopped. Or maybe I’d have ended up like my friends.
Friends? No, not really. I’ve spent the last twenty years telling myself they were, because it was easier than the truth. The truth is, I hated the others. Thought they deserved what they got. I didn’t get it, not till later. They were just kids for Christ’s sake. They weren’t perfect, but who the fuck is? I can tell you, I wasn’t no prize. Just some cheery little shit who could smile and look pretty and not give a fuck as long as it was happening to other people.
It was only later that I got it. That I understood what he’d done to the other kids. What he wanted to do to me. So I ran. Dyed my hair and lived on the streets for a couple of years. I never went home again, because I knew he’d find me. I read in the papers what happened to my family a couple of weeks later.
No one ever linked it to him. No one ever linked what happened to my family to what happened to the other kids. I don’t know why. No one’s going to link these ones to him either. No one’s even going to suspect him. But I know he did it. I know. And I have to stop him. Because I’m the only one who can.
Willy Wonka must die.

Shambling Toward Success

A short story cryptically titled “Document 5274.45-024.NA107.TMpl-Cltp.16947.0087”, was featured on episode 92 of Dr. Pus’s “Library of the Living Dead” podcast. This is a short epistolary story which I wrote under the name “Redshoe”, and aired as part of a segment called “Letters from the Dead”.
My story appears around 11:44 into the program (Or 7:46, if you care to hear Dr. Pus’s zombie-themed rendition of Joe Cocker’s “The Letter”, used to introduce the segment), and is a bit sad.
The podcast can be found here: http://dr-pus.podomatic.com/entry/2009-10-16T22_06_26-07_00
If, having listened to my story, you find that you want more, the entire “Library of the Living Dead” series can be found at http://dr-pus.podomatic.com/. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, embodying both the strengths (If you’re reading this blog, you know I have a thing for eschatology) and the weaknesses of the genre (Sturgeon’s Law and rabid survivalist fantasy), but leaning heavily toward the awesome, and definitely worth a listen if you’re into that sort of thing.

106 Books

So, Sargent over at Live Granades was compelled by his wife to follow suit on this meme whereby you look at this list of the 106 books most often left unread on library shelves, and mark the ones you’ve read.
So what the hell, I’ll do the same. Read in bold, partly read in italics, seen the movie in underline
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote (It’s not underlined because Man of La Mancha doesn’t count)
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (But I didn’t really pay attention)
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
1984
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park (And so did Leah; it was our first date.)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved (But I regretted every word of it)
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers